You Can’t Buy Photoshop Anymore

By Deane Barker on July 4, 2013

Software as a Monthly Rental: My gut reaction to this is that it’s horrible.

But now, Photoshop is also the biggest-name software that you can’t actually buy. You can only rent it, for a month or a year at a time. If you ever stop paying, you keep your files but lose the ability to edit them.

You have to pay $30 a month, or $240 a year, for the privilege of using the latest Photoshop version, called Photoshop CC. Or, if you want to use the full Adobe suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and so on), you’ll pay $600 a year.

For emphasis, let me point out that you can no longer purchase Photoshop. Renting isn’t an option.  It’s the the only way to get it.

Mind Manager did the same thing on me.  I immediately switched to XMind.

I suppose this is where we’re headed in general. In the enterprise software world, software subscription is often the biggest source of company revenues. Companies will discount the initial purchase like crazy, just to get the yearly subscription fees.  That’s what keeps sustaining them, year over year.

For now, I just can’t do it. I’m going to abandon all software that moves to a rental model.  But, from a vendor perspective, this is a huge benefit to them, so I imagine this is the direction things are going, and I’ll have no choice but to capitulate at some point.

In the end, is this different than “pure” subscription models, like Basecamp and the other countless services we pay $X per month for?  Probably not.  But it’s somehow…murkier, because we’re installing something on our local machines.

Is it just a cognitive fallacy that I’m getting tripped up by that?  If these were pure web-based services, I’d be okay with that…right?



  1. It’s a little easier to accept when you consider that we are “renting” everything we have, given our finite lifespans =]

  2. Traditionally, Adobe has been coming out with a new version of Creative Suite every 2 years (on average). If you were upgrading your version of CS it would run you roughly $400 for a single license upgrade. So with my excellent math skills, I figure that’s about $200 a year to keep up to date on Adobe products. With creative cloud, you’ll be paying $50 a month indefinitely, and will be paying $600 a year. That’s a pretty big increase. That is why I’m against CC. Other than price, I think it’s a great idea.

  3. Yeah, really glad I just worked through upgrading to CS6 which should carry me for quite some time. I agree though, renting these products is a difficult pill to swallow for the casual user (like myself). I bought Photoshop years ago and have tried to maintain the upgrade path every other version just to stay current. For the amount of time I use Photoshop I could never justify $30/month. Adobe needs to introduce usage tier pricing too, something like $5 for 50 or 100 hours per month would be perfect.

  4. Wouldn’t buy this for myself at home in a lifetime. As most people I only use it at work.

    And I just absolutely hate it when my employer gives me some version from 2006 or whatever because they don’t wan’t to buy software twice. This would nicely solve that.

    All I can think of is respect for the guy who pushed this through.

    This way it’s way easier for them to innovate their software. They’ll lose their need for backwards compatibility once everyone has switched to this new way of life.

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